Monday, January 18, 2010

A Quick Vegan Dinner in Miami

With only a few hours to kill and a massive need for some shut eye before getting back on a plane, I walked bleary eyed down the boisterous and lively Lincoln Road in Miami's South Beach for the very first time. So often when traveling, when my sleep schedule is off and my blood sugar is low, I find myself pushing to see something, ignoring hunger and the need for sleep. I very rarely regret doing so, as I often forget any mild discomfort (shin splints, the need for caffeine) and completely take in my new surroundings.

This was the case recently, when I had an overnight layover in Miami. I checked into the cheapest hotel I could find in South Beach's Art Deco area and forced my tired leg muscles to trudge onward, past the glittery and teeny-dressed souls in search for wild nightlife, and onto Lincoln Road. The famed pedestrian-only road is essentially a giant outdoor mall. In addition to taking in the balmy and lively atmosphere, I was on a mission to find a bookstore that I had heard offered vegan food well into the night.

Books and Books is set in an ideal people watching location. There's outdoor seating that lets the tired traveler relax and enjoy the show. Though I breezed right past it at first, I eventually figured out that Books and Books looks a lot more like Cafe Tables and Cafe Tables on the outside. The actual book store itself is tucked away inside, and it offers a fun selection of reading materials that a book lover like me can get lost in for a while.

The menu has a vegan section that is clearly marked. The Black Bean Hummus appetizer was fresh and satisfying, and the Avocado Salsa was a great way to start the meal. The Grilled Organic Tofu and Avocado Salad with Orange Miso Dressing was perfectly crisp, zesty, and filling. It was hard to choose an entree, since the Organic Tofu and Wild Mushroom Stir Fry and the Grilled Organic Tofu Fajita Wrap were so tempting, but our vegan waiter helped with the decision. There are no vegan desserts here, but you'll probably be too full after your meal to even consider it. The rest of Lincoln Road offers you a place to walk it off.

I would love to return to Miami and properly check out the beach in the daylight. I will surely be returning to Books and Books.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Vegan Solution to Parched Winter Skin

Oh my, it has been a while since I last posted. I won't go into boring details, but my excuses relate to my computer's hard drive crashing, losing many files and photos, moving into a new house, and general busy-ness with work and life outside of writing this blog. I've been meaning to update it, but this intention inevitably gets back-burnered. It was an e-mail from Skin MD Natural and the resulting free sample that got me here today.

Arriving just in time as winter kicked into high gear, this lotion is definitely worthy of some praise. Skin MD Natural is a vegan skin lotion that can be used on your face, hands, feet, and body. It's white, scentless, and absorbs into the skin almost instantly leaving it feeling quenched and soft, especially nice in the dry heat that characterizes the indoors of just about everywhere in New Jersey in winter. I imagine this stuff would be equally excellent while sitting in an airplane, and I'll definitely be taking some with me the next time I fly.

I'm used to vanilla or ginger scented lotions that sort of sit on my skin for a little while before getting absorbed, so this was quite different for me. There is no feeling of greasiness after putting Skin MD Natural on, in fact I just put some on my hands right now and I'm sitting here typing on my brand new laptop. I wouldn't do that with my old standby hand lotion because there'd be greasy fingerprints all over my keyboard! Amazingly, this stuff lasts too. If I put my hands in soapy water to wash a coffee cup or wash my hands, the moisturized feeling does not get stripped away. Apparently, this is because Skin MD Natural is a "shielding lotion", letting moisture in and sealing out irritants. You can read a much more detailed explanation of what a shielding lotion does here.

Another thing worth noting is that it can truly be used on your face and body. I'm usually dubious of multi-purpose claims, thinking that if it's thick enough for my hands it's going to make my face totally break out. This is not the case at all with Skin MD Natural. With it's first two ingredients water and aloe, it's easy to see why. This lotion also includes vitamin E, arnica, comfrey, chamomile, and yarrow. I like the way this company includes not only a list of ingredients on their website, but also an explanation of their source and purpose in their products. Definitely worth checking out. Not sure where to get it? It's sold in pharmacies. Find a store near you here.

Check back soon for more vegan travel stories from Australia, Miami, and Austin. I'm back!!!